LSU gymnastics: Tigers move up to No. 3; Lexie Priessman expected to return Friday _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Lexie Priessman performs on the beam during LSU's home opener against Oklahoma, Saturday, January 9, 2016, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La. Priessman scored a 9.725 in the event.

The LSU gymnastics team improved to No. 3 in the national rankings Monday, locking up the No. 2 seed for next week’s Southeastern Conference championships.

That seeding sets up the Tigers with the same rotation Friday in their final regular-season meet in Denton, Texas, as they will see next week at SECs in North Little Rock, Arkansas: bars, beam, floor and vault.

“It’s a great rotation,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “We get to finish on two very strong events. Bars has become a really good event for us, and we’re very comfortable with our beam lineup. I think it works in our favor.”

LSU’s season-high score of 197.925 in last Friday’s home finale against Alabama pushed the Tigers’ Regional Qualifying Score to 197.340, behind only Oklahoma (197.765) and Florida (197.580) and just ahead of Alabama (197.325).

LSU defeated all three teams in dual meets this season.

Priessman expected back

Breaux said she expects to ease freshman Lexie Priessman back into the lineup Friday when the Tigers take on Texas Woman’s, Oregon State and New Hampshire in Denton.

Priessman will compete on bars. She scored a career-high 9.925 in that event Jan. 22 against Kentucky.

Priessman was in four of LSU’s first five meets but hasn’t seen action since Feb. 5 because of an ankle injury.

Breaux said Priessman was feeling ill Monday, but “if she can come in and practice (Tuesday) and Wednesday, there’s a 100 percent chance we will put her in the lineup.”

A native of Cincinnati, Priessman was considered the best gymnast of LSU’s stellar 2015 recruiting class that also includes three regulars in the Tigers lineup: Sarah Finnegan, McKenna Kelley and Julianna Cannamela.

Gnat still No. 1 on vault

Ashleigh Gnat remains the nation’s No. 1 gymnast on vault with an RQS of 9.965 after a 9.950 against Alabama.

Gnat slipped out of a first-place tie on floor despite a 10 against Bama that put her RQS at 9.945, ranking just behind Denver’s Nina McGee (9.965).

Gnat, who has two 10s this season on floor and two on vault, does have the nation’s highest floor average at 9.942 to McGee’s 9.923.

Gnat said she and her teammates try not to pay too much attention to rankings.

“It’s great to see our position change as we move up,” she said, “but we’re trying to focus on our game plan.”

Myia Hambrick is tied for sixth in all-around with an RQS of 39.490.